October 12th, 2017

Lyman E-Zee Case Gauge Measures Over 70 Cartridge Types

Lyman E-zee case gauge II cartridge length gage

Lyman E-zee case gauge II cartridge length gageLyman’s popular E-Zee Case Length Gauge is now bigger and better. The new version II of Lyman’s Case Gauge is much larger than the original version. The Case Gauge II now measures more than 70 cartridge types — way more than before. This tool is a metal template with SAAMI-max-length slots for various cartridge types, including relatively new cartridges such as the .204 Ruger and Winchester Short Magnums. This tool allows you to quickly sort brass or check the dimensions. If you have a bucketful of mixed pistol brass this can save you hours of tedious work with calipers. You can also quickly check case lengths to see if it’s time to trim your fired brass.

If you load a wide variety of calibers, or do a lot of pistol shooting, we think you should pick up one of these Lyman Case Gauge templates. They are available for under twenty bucks at Brownells ($18.99) and Amazon.com ($17.77). The E-Zee Case Gauge has long been a popular item for hand-loaders.

NOTE: For years the E-Zee Case Gauge had a silver finish with black lettering, as shown above. Some of the most recent production of E-Zee guages have a new “high contrast” look, with white lettering on a black frame. You may get either version when you order online (Brownells shows silver, Amazon shows black). We actually prefer the older version.

Case Gauge Should Last a Lifetime
Easily measure the case length of over 70 popular rifle and pistol cases with Lyman’s new E-Zee Case Length Gauge II. This really is a “must-have” piece of kit for any gun owner who hand-loads numerous pistol and rifle calibers.

This rugged, precisely-made metal gauge makes sorting or identifying cases fast and accurate. The template is machined with SAAMI max recommended case lengths. Made from metal, with no moving parts, the E-Zee Case Gauge II should last a lifetime.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Reloading No Comments »
August 19th, 2016

Smart Tool Tip: Make Your Own Length-to-Lands Gauge

Here’s a tip we feature every year or so, because it is something that costs nothing, yet can be very useful in the reloading process. With a simple, easy modification to a fired case, you can determine the length to lands in your rifle barrel. As long as you set the tension right, the measurements should be repeatable, and you’ve just saved yourself $31 — the price of a commercial OAL gauge.

To achieve best accuracy with a rifle, you must control bullet seating depth very precisely, so all bullets end up in the same place relative to the entrance of the lands, every time. There may be multiple cartridge OALs which prove accurate. However, with each, you first need to determine a “zero” point — a reliable, and repeatable OAL where the bullet is “just touching” the lands.

There are tools, such as the Hornady (formerly Stoney Point) OAL Gauge, that will help you find a seating OAL just touching the lands. However, the tool requires that you use a special modified case for each cartridge you shoot. And, while we find that the Hornady OAL Gauge is repeatable, it does take some practice to get in right.

Make Your Own Length-to-Lands Gauge with a Dremel
Here’s an inexpensive alternative to the Hornady OAL tool — a slotted case. Forum member Andris Silins explais how to create a slotted case to measure length to the lands in your rifle:

“Here’s what I did to find length to lands for seating my bullets. I made four cuts into the neck of fire-formed brass. Then I pressed the bullet in lightly and chambered the entire gauge. As the cartridge chambers, the bullet slides back into the case to give you length to lands. It took less than five minutes to get it cut and working. A little light oil in the barrel just past the chamber helps ensure the bullet does not get stuck in the lands. It works great and is very accurate.

case OAL gauge home made

I made the cuts using a Dremel with a cut-off wheel. You can adjust tension two ways. First, you can make the cuts longer or shorter. Longer cuts = less tension. If you used only three cuts insted of four you would get more tension. The trick is to be gentle when you open and close the bolt. If you ram the bolt closed you may wedge the bullet into the lands. When you open the bolt it helps to keep a finger or two near by to guide the case out straight because the ejector wants to push it sideways.”

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 7 Comments »
May 1st, 2016

How to Make a Modified Case to Measure Length to Lands

Hornady Stony Point Tool OAL O.A.L. gauge bullet seating length ogive checker

In this video, Forum member Erik Cortina shows how to create a custom modified case for use with the Hornady Lock-N-Load Overall Length Gauge (formerly the Stoney Point Tool). While Hornady sells modified cases for many standard cartridges, if you shoot a wildcat such as the 6mm Dasher or .284 Shehane, you’ll need to create a custom modified case*. And even if you shoot a standard cartridge such as the .308 Winchester you can get more consistent measurements if you make a custom modified case from a piece of brass fired in your chamber.

The process is straight-forward. Take a piece of brass fired in your chamber and full-length size it (with about .002″ shoulder bump). Then you need to drill out the primer pocket. Erik uses a mini-lathe for the operation, but this general process can be done with a drill press or other tools. Erik shows how to do this with a 0.290″ HSS (High Speed Steel) drill bit on a mini-lathe. After drilling the hole comes the tricky part — you need to tap the case with the precise 5/16″ x 36 threads per inch (tpi) right-hand thread that matches the male thread on the O.A.L. Gauge. This 5/16″ x 36 tpi tap is pretty uncommon, but you can order it from Amazon.com if you can’t source it locally.

Hornady Stony Point Tool OAL O.A.L. gauge bullet seating length ogive checker

If you use a mini-lathe, Erik suggests loosening the tailstock slightly, so it can float while cutting the threads. Erik also says: “Make sure you get the tap on pretty tight — it’s going to want to spin.” Erik turns the case at about 100 rpm when tapping the threads. Once the case and tap are rigged, the actual tapping process (see video at 6:00) takes only a few seconds. While the mini-lathe makes the tapping process go more quickly, the threading can also be done with other systems.

TIP: Don’t just make one modified case, make three. That gives you one for your range kit, one for your home reloading bench, plus a spare (since you WILL eventually lose or misplace one).


Here’s the Stuff You Need

Hornady Stony Point Tool OAL O.A.L. gauge bullet seating length ogive checker

5/16″-36 TPI Threading Tap
The required thread is somewhat uncommon. You need a 5/16″ – 36 tpi Right Hand Thread Tap. If you can’t find it locally, Amazon.com carries the correct tap. Erik notes: “The 5/16-36 tpi tap is not a common size. I think Hornady did this on purpose to make it more difficult for the average guy to make his own modified cases.”

0.290″ Drill Bit
Erik uses an 0.290″ HSS “L” drill bit. (This “L” Letter Gauge code designates a 0.290″ diameter bit). A close metric equivalent would be 7.3 mm (0.286″). Erik says: “A 9/32″ drill will also work but it will be harder to run the tap in since the hole will be .281″ instead of .290″ with the Letter Gauge L bit.”

Tips for Using O.A.L. Gauge with Modified Case
We’ve noticed that many folks have trouble getting reliable, consistent results when they first start using the Hornady O.A.L. Gauge (formerly the Stoney Point Tool). We’ve found this is usually because they don’t seat the modified case properly and because they don’t use a gentle, consistent method of advancing the bullet until it just kisses the lands.

Here is our suggested procedure for use the O.A.L. Gauge. Following this method we can typically make three of four measurements (with the same bullet), all within .001″ to .0015″. (Yes, we always measure multiple times.)

1. Clean your chamber so there is no build-up of carbon, debris, or lube. Pay particular attention to the shoulder area.

2. Screw the modified case on to the O.A.L. Gauge. Make sure it is seated firmly (and doesn’t spin loose). Note, you may have to re-tighten the modified case after insertion in the chamber.

3. Place your selected bullet so that the ogive (max bullet diameter) is behind the case mouth. This prevents the bullet from “snagging” as you insert the tool in the action.

4. Insert the O.A.L. Gauge into your chamber smoothly. Push a little until you feel resistance. IMPORTANT — You need to ensure that the shoulder of the modified case is seated firmly against the front of your chamber. You may have to wiggle and twist the tool slightly. If you do not have the modified case seated all the way in, you will NOT get a valid measurement.

5. Advance the bullet slowly. (NOTE: This is the most important aspect for consistency!). Push the rod of the O.A.L. tool gently towards the chamber. DON’T shove it hard! Easy does it. Stop when you feel resistance.

6. IMPORTANT. After gently pushing on the rod, give the end of the rod a couple forward taps with your finger. If your bullet was slightly skewed, it may have stopped too far back. Adding a couple extra taps will fix that. If the bullet moves after the taps, then again push gently on the rod. NOT too much! You just want to push the bullet until it just “kisses” the lands and then stops. Do NOT jam the bullet into the rifling. If you do that you will never get consistent results from one measurement to the next.

* For a $15.00 fee, Hornady will make a custom modified case for you if you send two fired pieces of brass. Send fired cases and $15.00 check to: Hornady Manufacturing, Attn: Modified Cases, 108 S. Apollo St., Alda, NE 68810. More Info HERE.

Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 7 Comments »
July 11th, 2012

TOOL TIP: Make Your Own Length-to-Lands Gauge

To achieve best accuracy with a rifle, you must control bullet seating depth very precisely, so all bullets end up in the same place relative to the entrance of the lands, every time. There may be multiple cartridge OALs which prove accurate. However, with each, you first need to determine a “zero” point — a reliable, and repeatable OAL where the bullet is “just touching” the lands.

There are tools, such as the Hornady (formerly Stoney Point) OAL Gauge, that will help you find a seating OAL just touching the lands. However, the tool requires that you use a special modified case for each cartridge you shoot. And, while we find that the Hornady OAL Gauge is repeatable, it does take some practice to get in right.

Make Your Own Length-to-Lands Gauge with a Dremel
Here’s an inexpensive alternative to the Hornady OAL tool — a slotted case. Forum member Andris Silins explais how to create a slotted case to measure length to the lands in your rifle:

“Here’s what I did to find length to lands for seating my bullets. I made four cuts into the neck of fire-formed brass. Then I pressed the bullet in lightly and chambered the entire gauge. As the cartridge chambers, the bullet slides back into the case to give you length to lands. It took less than five minutes to get it cut and working. A little light oil in the barrel just past the chamber helps ensure the bullet does not get stuck in the lands. It works great and is very accurate.

case OAL gauge home made

I made the cuts using a Dremel with a cut-off wheel. You can adjust tension two ways. First, you can make the cuts longer or shorter. Longer cuts = less tension. If you used only three cuts insted of four you would get more tension. The trick is to be gentle when you open and close the bolt. If you ram the bolt closed you may wedge the bullet into the lands. When you open the bolt it helps to keep a finger or two near by to guide the case out straight because the ejector wants to push it sideways.”

Permalink Reloading 12 Comments »
April 9th, 2009

Hornady (aka Stoney Point) OAL Gauge on Sale at MidwayUSA

Now through April 30, 2009, MidwayUSA has the Hornady (formerly Stoney Point) Lock-N-Load Overall Length Gauge (item 570611) on sale for $25.99. That’s $4.50 off the regular price. Note, in addition to the Gauge itself, you’ll need a threaded modified case for each caliber you shoot, and we recommend having a comparator body with caliber-specific insert. The comparator allows you to measure from base of case to bullet ogive (rather than bullet tip).


OAL Gauge shown with Comparator to allow measurement from bullet ogive.

This Editor personally uses the Hornady Overall Length Gauge to find the distance to the lands for all his centerfire rifles. With practice, using the right technique, you can achieve measurements that are very repeatable. Here’s my method:

1. After screwing the modified case securely to the gauge, insert the case (with a bullet in neck) into the chamber. Make sure the modified (threaded) case goes ALL the way into the chamber. (Note: a heavily-fouled chamber can interfere with the seating of the modified case.)

2. Slide the gray pusher rod gently forward until you feel the first, slight resistance, then stop.

3. Now with the tip of your finger, tap the gray rod gently two or three times. This should give you a good, repeatable bullet contact with the lands, without going into the rifling.

4. You do NOT want to push hard on the gray rod. This will cause the bullet to engage the rifling. That will cause the bullet to stick, and you will end up with inconsistent length-to-lands measurements.

Some folks complain that this tool is not particularly repeatable. Well, if you use and practice the technique above, I think you’ll find the opposite is true. Using the Hornady OAL Gauge with a Berger bullet in a 6PPC, I recently measured length to lands five times in a row, with a couple witnesses to the procedure. Each of the measurements was consistent within .0007″ as recorded with a set of Mitutoyo Digital calipers. The key is using the same technique and pressure every time. CLICK HERE for a complete review of the Hornady OAL Gauge, with many photos

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 3 Comments »